The Alpha Covid variant, in the process of mutating, has gained specific ‘skills’ to block the innate immune system response. This discovery is expected to lead scientists to better understand how the virus develops.
According to the research, published in Nature magazine, the Alpha variant’s new isolates “Suppressing innate immune responses from airway epithelial cell cells more effectively will help to suppress them” compared to first wave isolates. According to the report, Alpha, which was first discovered in the UK in November 2020 and quickly spread around the world, “It has dramatically increased” the protein levels of “Anti-innate immunity.”
This means that Alpha has ‘learned’ how to evade the body’s first line of response. It does so by blocking the sensors in the airways, which under normal circumstances ‘warn’ the immune system of the virus’ presence and prompt it to produce the ‘anti-viral’ protein interferon.
The researchers say the “more effective innate immune suppression” increases the chances of transmission, as well as the duration of illness.
“It will be interesting to compare how Omicron and Delta perform in the lungs of our epithelial cells.,” a co-author of the research, Dr. Lucy Thorne, said, as quoted by Science Daily.
A better understanding of the mechanisms used by different variants to evade the immune defenses, “This will not only teach us about viruses but also about our biology as humans.” Thorne added.
Recent Omicron-related cases have prompted new travel bans and restrictions to be reintroduced in countries.
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